Things That Matter

The Leader Of A Militia Group Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Families At Gunpoint Arrested For Felony Firearm Possession

A right-wing militia group that has been illegally detaining groups of migrant families in southern New Mexico is without a leader today. Militia groups rallying against undocumented immigrants is nothing new. However, the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos on social media of them detaining a group of about 200 migrants. Now, the leader of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, is behind bars, not for detaining people, but for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

A 41-minute video shows large groups of migrant asylum seekers being detained at gunpoint before U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive.

According to Buzzfeed News, the militia group known has posted videos from the border for the past few months. They’ve shared videos showing members detaining people in near the southern New Mexico border.

A video shows distraught migrants placed in giant groups seated on the ground at night. You can see the militia group ordering migrant families and children to sit down, calling border patrol agents on them.

After terrorizing migrant families, the ring leader for United Constitutional Patriots is behind bars, but not for kidnapping.

Credit: Doña Ana County Jail

According to the Doña Ana County Jail website, Hopkins was arrested by the FBI for possession of firearms and ammunition as a felon. Hopkins, who was arrested over the weekend, faced his first day in court Monday.

According to The New York Times, the FBI was made aware in October 2017 of the “alleged militia extremist activity” of a group in New Mexico. The arrest was prompted after the groups posted several videos of their mass citizen arrests.

The group, mainly consisting of veterans, has been patrolling the southern New Mexico border since February.

A statement on the United Constitutional Patriots’ Facebook page describes the militia group as “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there rights in unity and help keep America safe.”

“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group told The New York Times. He compared the group’s detention of the migrants to “a verbal citizen’s arrest.”

Benvie also says that members of the group offered $20 to any of the migrants who could identify the smuggler who helped them cross the border. But none of the migrants accepted the offer.

Social media is buzzing with the truth beneath the ambiguous language in the news.

Credit: @dcbigjohn / Twitter

Immigration advocates are concerned that Hopkins and his gang might have broken international kidnapping laws. A lot of officials have an issue with the timing of Hopkins’ arrest. According to The New York Times, the guns were found at Hopkins’ residence in 2017. Some reports claim prominent Democratic officials pressured the FBI to act on the arrestable offenses they of which they already had evidence.

The ACLU doesn’t agree with the militia group and will be seeking legal action.

“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to state authorities denouncing the group’ actions. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham responded to the news of the immigrant groups being unlawfully detained. He says the actions of the group are “unacceptable.”

“That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form when they arrive at our border — often times after an unimaginably arduous journey — is completely unacceptable,” Grisham told NBC News. “It should go without saying that regular citizens have no authority to arrest or detain anyone.”

Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser in Washington for the Women’s Refugee Commission, told the New York Times the militia’s motives are questionable.

“These are families, and lots of young children, fleeing dangerous situations,” Ojeda said. “I have a hard time seeing how someone has a right to point a loaded weapon at these families.”

READ: Yo-Yo Ma Sends Message Of Unity By Playing Cello On Both Sides Of US-Mexico Border

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

A recent video shared by a border patrol agent highlighted a shocking moment of smugglers literally dropping two little girls over a 14-foot high fence in the New Mexico desert. Right in the dead of night.

In the disturbing video, the smugglers can be seen climbing the fence and then dropping the two 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters to the ground.

El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez shared that the incident occurred “miles from the nearest residence.”

The two little girls (Yareli, 3, and Yasmina, 5) were rescued after agents spotted them during a virtual surveillance sweep. The two sisters are from Ecuador and were dumped by human smugglers at the border wall according to an official.

“[US Immigration officials] need to verify the identity of the parents and confirm they are the parents and make sure they are in good condition to receive the girls,” Magdalena Nunez, of the Consulate of Ecuador in Houston, explained to The New York Post on Thursday. “It’s a process … We’re working to make sure it’s an expedited process and the girls spend as minimal time as possible separated from their parents.”

“Hopefully it can happen soon, in a week or two, but  it can take up to six weeks. We are working to make sure sure it happens as quickly as possible,” she explained before noting that the two sisters are “doing very well.”

“We have been in contact with them and confirmed they are in good health,” Nunez shared. “Physically, they are perfect — emotionally, obviously, they went through a hard time, but I guarantee you right now they are in good health and they are conversing. They are very alert, very intelligent.”

In a statement about the incident, the Ecuadorian consulate confirmed that the two girls had been in touch with their parents, who live in New York City.

“The Ecuadorian Consulate in Houston had a dialogue with the minors and found that they are in good health and that they contacted their parents, who currently live in New York City,” explained the consulate.

In a statement from the girls’ parents sent to Telemundo, the girls’ parents had left their daughters behind at their home in Jaboncillo, Ecuador, to travel to the US. The parents of the two girls have been identified as Yolanda Macas Tene and Diego Vacacela Aguilar. According to the New York Post, “The girls’ grandparents have asked President Biden to reunite the children with their parents. Aguilar paid a human smuggler to take his kids to the border — though the grandparents didn’t know how much they paid.”

“[The parents] wanted to be with them, their mother suffered a lot, for that reason they decided to take them,” paternal grandfather Lauro Vacacela explained in an interview with Univision.

It is still uncertain as to whether or not the girls’ parents are in the country legally.

Photos of the girls showed them having snacks with Agent Gloria Chavez.

“When I visited with these little girls, they were so loving and so talkative, some of them were asking the names of all the agents that were there around them, and they even said they were a little hungry,” Chavez told Fox News. “So I helped them peel a banana and open a juice box and just talked to them. You know, children are just so resilient and I’m so grateful that they’re not severely injured or [have] broken limbs or anything like that.”

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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